Not as planned

Well. Last Thursday, things did not go as planned

Well, unless the plan was to spend 3 hours in the desert trying to reach my source and hoping he was just running late (he wasn’t), things did not go as planned. The appointment had been to find out about an active search for a 21-year-old man who disappeared approximately 7 weeks ago. I’d spoken to the man leading that day’s trip and tracked down the phone number of the missing man’s father, who’d come to Tucson from Tennessee in hopes of finding answers, the original tip coming from a mass email:

“Could you please run on the [humanitarian organization] site a notice that there is a father here from [a southern state] who has been looking for his 21 yo son left by his group 5 weeks ago and please call and take him out if people have time?…He has been here in Tucson for five weeks, living on the street and searching daily…He’s been sent a map of where to look but it’s a very bad map from the person who was with his son and was apprehended and deported. The map maker would like to be paid for a better map……..BTW, he’s already checked the morgue (negative) and I will check hospitals today.”

MFM Blog Update: Time for Changes

If things go as currently planned, when this scheduled update posts I will be in the desert for more information on a story I have been following since last week. And then writing it up for to post, and then doing the originally planned update on Eddie’s search for his brother-in-law, Andy. It’s the latest in a series of big changes that are happening in my schedule and therefore will affect the blog a bit. My day to day schedule has changed a great deal as of June 1st, including switching from a nightshift back to daylight (or at least, trying to – I’ve been very confused about time since Friday and apparently getting back to daylight will take a little time!). What that means for the blog: a little upheaval in the short term as the blog switches to this new schedule too, but ultimately more regularity and reliability as I can better report and report back here.

Hiking with Samaritans, part 2

This is the second of a three part series on hiking in southern Arizona with humanitarian volunteers: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & photo gallery

There’s wildflowers everywhere. Tiny, low blue blossoms blanket the ground with taller, springier pink trumpets erupting at intervals in clumps. More infrequently there are also lacy white blooms and occasionally a burst of yellow or fiery flowers. But I’m still wearing all my layers. About 10 minutes in we come to a cache of water jugs.

Hiking with Samaritans, part 1

This is the first of a three part series on hiking in southern Arizona with humanitarian volunteers: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & photo gallery

A few days before I was scheduled to hike with Samaritans, I walked into the parking lot and winced – not just because the heat was hitting me at that moment but because I knew that hiking in this heat with only limited shade would be even worse. But the desert in Arizona is far from predictable. I woke up that Saturday shivering and piled on the layers before starting the drive south. The car shook in winds that swept the highway before we even left Phoenix and the digital bulletin boards warned of possible haboob conditions on the I10. I shuddered, remembering coverage of an accident caused by haboob conditions near Picaco Peak in September 2011.

Samaritan Training

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If you run into trouble or out of water in the desert, finding help may be essential to your survival. From local police and sheriff’s departments to elite Border Patrol units, law enforcement in southern Arizona regularly rescues migrants who’ve gotten injured or ill, as well as recreational hikers, hunters and off roaders. But many people, especially migrants, can’t call for help when they most need it. Cell phone reception is weak and patchy, and some pollers demand that migrants leave their cell phones behind before crossing the border, if they even had cell phones to begin with. Many are also afraid of any contact with law enforcement.